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Posts Tagged ‘wormholes’

No one can argue that this past year has been stressful. We all needed escape mechanisms to help us cope. I’ve tried several. After the shut-down last March, when COVID was still fairly new, I came across a list of streaming movies about pandemics to watch while quarantined. With ghoulish curiosity, I watched a few. Because those fictional accounts bore little resemblance to the existing situation, they provided a sort of comfort.

Netflix has a series, ominously released in January, 2020 before coronavirus became popular, called Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak. This documentary introduces the viewer to “heroes on the front lines of the battle against influenza” and showcases “their efforts to stop the next global outbreak.” Well, they didn’t stop this one, maybe because they focused on influenza and we were hit with a coronavirus. I watched a few episodes, but they were too close to reality, and I needed escape.

I seldom binge watch, but in the evening I’ll sit down to a movie or a couple episodes of a good TV show. Half the world found diversion from reality in Tiger King, but it was short lived. Science fiction is usually a good escapist genre. Even issues pertinent to our real world are disguised well enough to take us out of ourselves. I watched several seasons of Star Trek before I found Stargate SG-1.

If you are unfamiliar with the show, the Stargate is an ancient alien artifact that connects to other stargates throughout the galaxy by way of wormholes. SG-1 is a team of four adventurers. Each episode takes the heroes to a different planet where they encounter and surmount new perils. Each season, they save the Earth from impending doom. Good entertainment. Nothing, other than the occasional politics, to remind me of current problems.

The Stargate

Until I came to Season 9. A two part episode was titled “The Fourth Horseman.” Only after I watched the first part did it dawn on me that they were referring to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In the Old Testament, the Fourth Horseman is Plague.

In the last century, when we were sending people to the Moon, NASA would quarantine returning astronauts just in case they picked up some microorganism that could wreak havoc on Earth. The SG1 team bopped from planet to planet without a care. Only occasionally did they bring something undesirable home, and then it was usually an alien life form other than a disease.

Main characters are not allowed to die, of course, unless they can be restored to life, but lesser actors are fair game. In Episode 10 of Season 9, a team of lesser characters brought back a virus. I should have stopped watching, but I was addicted to the show.

One man developed a fever and respiratory distress and died. Others began to fall ill and were quarantined. Unfortunately, a lieutenant with no symptoms had already left the base, and he was a carrier. By the time they reined him in, the public had been exposed. The CDC was called in.

Back at the base, even individuals who had no contact with the infected team began to test positive or fall ill. The virus was described as “airborne and persistent.” Efforts to contain it to Colorado (where the story takes place) failed and cases began to pop up in other states. Public transportation was halted. Citizens panicked as the contagion continued to spread.  Hospitals were struggling and waiting rooms crowded. Cases emerged in major cities. The US borders were closed. Contact tracing was put into place.

It was like watching a recap of the past year’s news. How was this supposed to take my mind off my worries?

The script writers seemed to have done their homework. They must have consulted with the CDC on how a pandemic would play out. That, or they had a crystal ball. If that was the case, why didn’t they warn us?

There was one difference—no one wore masks. The general ignored the advice of the physician and went to visit his suffering airmen. I yelled at the screen, “Put on a mask!” He didn’t listen. Next scene, the general was in sick bay. I should have skipped the second episode, but I wanted to see how our heroes managed to save the world this time. They were furiously working on a vaccine.

Remember the cigarette-smoking man in The X Files? The actor William B. Davis? He is the arch villain in this story. In an attempt to conquer the Earth, he had purposely infected the doomed SG team. However, I don’t think he was responsible for our recent situation.

The Archvillain

By part two, there were cases in Mexico and Canada. Other countries grounded air travel and closed ports. The Stock Market crashed. Work on the vaccine continued, day and night, as the contagion continued to spread. Finally, the vaccine was ready and being distributed. (No mention of testing for safety and efficacy.) This team of fictional crack scientists developed a vaccine in two episodes in 1995, but it took us months in 2020.

At the end of the episode, a news reporter said, “The final death toll of the pandemic has been estimated at a little over 3000 worldwide.” Only 3000? The reporter seemed to think that was a lot. Do you remember when ours was only 3000? As I write this, our death toll has surpassed 3 million.

How did I remember so many details? A writer must sacrifice for her art. After I thought about writing this post, I watched the episodes again and took notes. Besides, plunging into it gave me a morbid sense of comfort.

The rest of the series thankfully offered more escape from reality. Now I’ve resumed Star Trek. Captain Picard’s world, while beset with conflict and danger, gives an optimistic view of the future where self-interest and greed have largely been replaced by ideals of cooperation and benevolence. What better way to get your mind off your troubles?   

If you haven’t already, check out my video at the Sunshine State Book Festival and my novel Trials by Fire on Amazon.

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            You know those plastic tubs margarine and cottage cheese come in? They make handy storage containers for leftovers. As good caretakers of the Earth, we don’t throw them in the garbage. We wash them and store them in the cupboards until they are needed. After holiday dinners, the excess from the feast can go home with guests and no one needs to worry about returning bowls. But if virtue is its own reward, that’s about as far as it goes. How many times have you fished one of these tubs out of the cabinet only to be unable to locate its lid? Conversely, how often have you found a lid that fits no container?

            When my children lived at home, I always had someone to blame. I would accuse them of throwing out a bowl or a cover, but not both, instead of washing them. Or they would carry off one part or the other for some unknown reason and never return it. I would be left with useless, mis-matched dishes. One of the joys of parenthood is having someone else to blame.

            After the last of my offspring moved out for the last time, and I had the house to myself, I set about righting wrongs, bringing order out of chaos. I went through my cupboards and paired every storage container with its lid. The lids with no mates, I discarded. The bowls with no covers were sent to the garden shed. They make handy flower pots and saucers. Order had been restored to my kitchen.

            Or so I thought. As the only cook and consumer, I had total control over what was in my cabinets, right? Wrong. The sad day came when the lid for just the right size tub for a certain volume of leftovers was nowhere to be found. Again, I went through the cupboards making matches. I was astounded by the number of pieces that had lost their mates. Unless my kids came in when I was asleep and purposely removed them, they could not be blamed. How, then, could I account for this enigma?

            One day, I was in my church’s kitchen putting away leftovers after a dinner. In the cabinet labeled “storage containers” I found a neat stack of Cool Whip and hummus tubs. Next to it was a basket full of lids. Not one matched! I was not the only victim of this mysterious occurrence.

            Finally, I have figured it out. You have heard about wormholes in space? You see them all the time in science fiction movies, and serious scientists believe they actually exist. They have no proof, but they have theories. Wormholes would be shortcuts in space-time that would allow travel from one part of the universe to another, or from one universe to another. These theories aren’t even new. Almost 100 years ago, a mathematician named Hermann Weyl had such an idea.

            The reason the scientists have as yet no proof of wormholes’ existence is that they are looking in the wrong place. I have no better theory about my disappearing containers and lids than the existence of a wormhole somewhere in my cupboards. It’s a small wormhole, too small for a space ship. Other kitchens have them as well, including the one at my church. Maybe you have one, too. From time to time a bowl or its cover will slip through the wormhole and end up in some other kitchen. Since I have found unfamiliar containers and lids in mine, I know it works both ways. Maybe this is where the idea of flying saucers came from.

            If only we could figure out which kitchens are connected to which others by these wormholes, we might be able to retrieve our prodigal dishes. A thorough study of this phenomenon could result in a major breakthrough in physics. It might even win a Nobel Prize. I invite any serious scientist to come explore my cupboards.

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